, Volume 71, Issue 8, pp 1439-1452
Date: 12 Nov 2013

MicroRNAs in myocardial ischemia: identifying new targets and tools for treating heart disease. New frontiers for miR-medicine

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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are natural, single-stranded, small RNA molecules which subtly control gene expression. Several studies indicate that specific miRNAs can regulate heart function both in development and disease. Despite prevention programs and new therapeutic agents, cardiovascular disease remains the main cause of death in developed countries. The elevated number of heart failure episodes is mostly due to myocardial infarction (MI). An increasing number of studies have been carried out reporting changes in miRNAs gene expression and exploring their role in MI and heart failure. In this review, we furnish a critical analysis of where the frontier of knowledge has arrived in the fields of basic and translational research on miRNAs in cardiac ischemia. We first summarize the basal information on miRNA biology and regulation, especially concentrating on the feedback loops which control cardiac-enriched miRNAs. A focus on the role of miRNAs in the pathogenesis of myocardial ischemia and in the attenuation of injury is presented. Particular attention is given to cardiomyocyte death (apoptosis and necrosis), fibrosis, neovascularization, and heart failure. Then, we address the potential of miR-diagnosis (miRNAs as disease biomarkers) and miR-drugs (miRNAs as therapeutic targets) for cardiac ischemia and heart failure. Finally, we evaluate the use of miRNAs in the emerging field of regenerative medicine.